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“In sales, a referral is the key to the door of resistance.” ~~Bo Bennett

This post may be a little controversial so let’s just wade right in.  Most people make the mistake of believing that customers are their best source of referrals.  I heard your mental door slam.  You don’t believe it when I say customers are NOT the best source and appreciate the sentiment.  Customers can and do provide referrals and can be exceptional sources.  However, over the long (and often short) run, strategic alliances run circles around them.

With a well-developed referral network you can realize more good referrals from one or two professionals than you could ever see from all of your clients combined.

There are a number of reasons for this and I will simply address two concepts.  The first is to consider the strengths of other professionals.  The second is to consider the dynamics of customer interaction.

Let’s level the playing field first by making the assumption that you demonstrate integrity, are experienced (with a decent customer base to draw from,) and are competent.  These can be speed bumps in any process, so let’s assume you are a professional.

Let’s also assume that as a professional you have established some business relationships along the way.

This puts us at the starting line to draw comparisons.

As you add clients they often need services you do not provide.  These can be nicely complemented by other professionals.  Examples include power-washer and painter, event planner and caterer, mortgage provider and closing attorney, to name a few.  If you are in the second seat of being referred (or consulted) by the lead company (or hub firm) then you can appreciate the situation and may crack that mental door back open a little.  The shortest path to success for the second seat professional is to drive business to the hub firm whenever possible.  Drive business to the Realtor and many downstream professionals come along for the ride.

In addition everyone along the line is a better sales representative than your clients.  When properly trained and motivated they can see the opportunities and introduce those referrals in a steady stream of activity.  In some cases they even have a vested interest in your success.

Now let’s consider the dynamic of customers, as well.  If you are spending part of your time with them to generate referrals you are diverting attention from their needs to your own.  Customers will not trust this dynamic long or often.

It is certainly possible to build asking for referrals into the process and there are key points where this is seamless and natural.  However, pressing too hard can terminate the entire relationship, so tread lightly.

Finally, there is also an important significant benefit in building productive relationships with other professionals—namely feedback.  A professional can tell you when your price is too high, your message too vague, or your offer too weak.  Customers just vanish quietly into the night and it takes a lot longer to correct a faulty course.

Let me close with one of my favorite quotes.  “Teamwork is so important that it is virtually impossible for you to reach the heights of your capabilities or make the money that you want without becoming very good at it.” ~~Brian Tracy

Make your team work!

© 2013 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.

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Written by bniguy

January 20, 2013 at 9:11 am

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